Networking with people is probably one of the best business success tools ever. But I used to stink at it. If you met me in person, you wouldn’t think that I was shy at all, but when it comes to networking with people about my business, I just didn’t do it.
I used to equate networking with “using” people. In my opinion there is nothing worse than some “schmo” you hardly know hitting you up for business or contacts. I hate it when people do that to me and I don’t do it do others.
I rarely even carry my business cards. Does that make me stupid, shy or both? I don’t know…but since my business is (thank goodness) growing and doing well, I don’t worry about it and never really did.
Having said that, I must admit that I was really struggling with blogging and I needed help. While this is still more of a hobby than a business, I still want to succeed. (If this is of interest, read my “How to Make Money with Your Blog” post.)
Thankfully, I recently uncovered three steps to mastering the art of networking with people, which I’m going to share with you.
If you take the time to really “get” networking, your business, career and personal life will skyrocket.
Step 1. Evaluate what you can give and then give it.
That’s right. Forget about getting something. Think about who you want to help and how. Be really clear on this. Do not proceed to Step 2 unless and until you are crystal clear on this.
Oh…and by the way, don’t try to B.S. yourself. If you are about to embark on some endeavor and it’s only going to benefit yourself, think about finding a new business or new career. Selfish projects fail. Sooner or later, they do. 100% guaranteed. Take my word on it.
Get out there and be of service. Do it wrong…do it right…it doesn’t matter. You have almost nothing to lose by making mistakes…just try to help if you see an opportunity to do so.
Step 2. Be clear about what you need in order to succeed. Find the right people, and ask.
When I started blogging a little over a year ago, I didn’t even know what I needed in order to succeed. There was so much material on the web that I could have turned researching this into a full-time gig. This was not an option, so I had no choice…I had to ask for direction and help. This helped me uncover the second “networking with people” step.
I contacted a number of people who knew a lot more than I did and asked for their advice. Lucky for me, they agreed. Why were they willing to help?
First, they are giving people. They are built that way.
Sorry…I just have to give a special shout-out to those guys who really went over the top to help me:
Thanks guys…thanks very much.
Second, I think they were willing to come to my assistance because they’d seen me struggle and try to do it myself. I think that the effort I put in made them more sympathetic to my situation.
The takeaway for you is to look for people who are givers but don’t take advantage of them. Be respectful of their time and try hard to do as much as you can for them and others. Don’t ask anyone to do something for you when you can do it yourself. Be very clear about what you need help on, too. This saves time. At the same time, know when you hit a wall and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The funny thing was that by asking these folks for help, we became friends.
Step 3. Focus on being helpful – especially if there is nothing in it for you.
It’s much better to give three or four times more than you get. You’ll actually progress a lot faster, and more important, you’ll feel better about yourself.
I’m certainly no tech maven and I pity the fool who comes to me for tech assistance. But I do have professional experience and knowledge that others may not have. When people call on me, I help if I can.
I’m fortunate in that Wealth Pilgrim has grown. I try to leverage that to help others when I can. I joined one group called the Yakezie Challenge, which has been fantastic for everyone involved. This was a group organized by Sam over at Financial Samurai. Now I’m joining another group called the Money Mavens. This is, in part, why I’m writing this post today.
The Money Mavens is a group of bloggers I respect and feel very comfortable with. We have a common goal in being helpful to others, sending a positive message and basing our work on faith. We don’t share the same faith…but we share our belief in the importance of faith. I love being part of this new group. In case you’re interested, here is a sample of the quality of some of the members and their work:
Len Penzo on Low-Income Drivers
Money Help for Christians and others…
Paul at Fiscal Geek on Why Real Men Pay With Cash
Enemy of Debt on Children and Money
Learning About TIPS – Oblivious Investor
Canadian Financial Blogger asks Which Car Is Right For Us?
Joe Taxpayer writes about your credit score.
Green Panda talks about how to avoid lifestyle inflation.
The takeaway here is simple. Look for ways to be of service. Think long and hard about what you want to do and how you want to help others. Find a group of other like-minded people and get going. Be clear on what the goals of the group are and what specific actions each member is expected to do in order to achieve those goals.
Looking back, I can tell you my blog would never have advanced this far had it not been for networking with other people. My question to you is, are you willing to ask for help? Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and face possible rejection?
What is your greatest business challenge, and are you going to tap into the power of other people by becoming a master at networking with people? How are you going to do this? When?